Diamonds in their base form are octahedrons, meaning that they have eight sides (although most are not perfectly shaped). Imagine two pyramids joined base to base, and you’ll have the form that diamonds were known to possess in the ancient world. When drawn in 2-D format from the side, this gives us the shape that we commonly see in red while playing cards. This is commonly referred to as the point cut, but more accurately, it’s just the natural rough diamond. Staying in line with what nature perfected, the first man made improvements ever applied to a diamond involved making misshapen point cuts more perfect.

Learning to Wear the Unbreakable Stone

The earliest evidence we have of diamonds being used in jewelry dates back to the first European who was bold and determined enough to make it all the way to the Indian regions where these rare stones could be found: Alexander the Great.

The ring in question, the oldest piece of jewelry in archeological records including diamonds, most likely dates to around 300 BC and was found in Ai Khanoum, Afghanistan. It is made in a Greek, Etruscan style with a cabochon pink sapphire center stone and a pair of raw or point cut diamonds accenting it to the left and right. It is hard to say who would have owned this ring, but it was clearly either a governor or incredibly wealthy individual.

The next archeological examples of diamonds being used in jewelry can be found in the form of rings dating back to Ancient Rome. There are a couple of diamond rings dating between 100-200 CE, but the vast majority of the handful of examples still known to exist are dated after the year 300 CE. The diamonds were set with the point prominent and in some cases, the diamond would even go down through the ring to where it touched the wearers skin. Considering the magical powers associated with diamonds, we can only assume that this was intentional and thought to connect the wearer even more to the power within the stone.

A Real Point Cut

It wasn’t until after humans had discovered the secrets of polishing a diamond that the first "diamond cut" came into existence. It was most likely during the second half of the 14th century (or possibly even a few centuries earlier), when a slightly misshapen diamond had it's natural sides reshaped to produce a more perfected octahedron shape. It seems as though man’s first instincts regarding how to make a diamond more beautiful was to fashion a shape more in line with perfection in nature.

From here, the point of the diamond would become more and more exaggerated. The tips would become sharper, the polishing smoother. Not all diamonds used in jewelry were polished, but the story of diamond cutting was about to get a lot more interesting.

If Cutting It is Too Difficult, Just Turn It

Around the same time (late 1300s), royalty and wealthy Europeans gained interest in new diamond shapes and designs, but they still didn’t know how to actually shape the stones very well. That’s when jewelers got the idea to turn the stones, so that only one side of the octahedron was displayed face up. This gave the stone a unique polished look and appeared more triangular. Surely, fellow rulers would be fascinated with this new style of adornment. From this point forward, the most powerful people across Europe would use diamonds and diamond jewelry as a display of wealth, power and innovation.

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